Black History Month–Take Off The Mask

Wearing a mask Q:  While we are celebrating Black History Month, I am so frustrated that the burden is on me to fit in and develop executive presence to make SVP.  What can I do?

A:   Sometimes it feels unfair but don’t confuse “fitting in” with “executive presence.” They are two different things.  Fitting in is not optional.  Remember, you picked the profession and the company and you accepted the role.  As you made your series of decisions you learned about the organizational culture—values, norms and behavior—and said, “Yes, I can work here.”  Now that you are on the court—you are in the game.  It is important to consider:

  • What does it take to be successful here?
  • Who are the “heroes” and who are the “goats”?
  • Why did they hire “me”?
  • What do they like about me?
  • Am I the same person that they hired?

You have a broader range of behavior that will signal that you have executive presence – gravitas—and executive presence is based on you being YOU.   Ask the following questions:

  • Do I have followers?
  • Am I engaging?  Mindful?  Likeable?
  • When and where do I influence decisions? Outcomes? Ideas?
  • Is my brand “strong” and consistent?

Everyone who makes it to the senior position–Black, White, Hispanic, Asian, LGBT– has executive presence.  What is your unique and authentic  expression of executive presence?  I can't be me

To reach your goal: you adeptly align your communication style and message to your audience, leaving them informed, in action and (when appropriate) inspired.   You will be on your way to that Senior Vice President role when you are authentic, not just adjusting your “mask” to fit in.


“The privilege of a lifetime is being who you are.”

—Joseph Campbell

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